My dismay has many sources but today I will focus on prices of basic commodities. I don't know what caused critical shortages of basic commodities and an immediate sharp price increase. Whatever the reason was, you rose to the occasion by suspending Statutory Instrument 122 of 2017, to allow individuals with free funds to bring the basic commodities in short supply. I thank you for your response but, the subsequent Zimbabwe Revenue Authority Memorandum issued on 7 November was a direct challenge to your authority.
This left me wondering if you are exactly in control of the country. Mr. President I am appalled by your "missing in action". My expectations were to see you leading your charges; I expect to see you leading the country; at least address me and explain to me what is going on. As much as I understand you are someone who is big on strategy and working behind the scenes, I would like to see you take a leading role and be visible and provide leadership to the country.
What I expect from you Mr. President are solutions and by suspending Statutory instrument 122, I felt you had responded well because when you unleash the entrepreneurship power of the Zimbabwean individual, the markets will self-correct; whatever the underlining causes where. Mr. President, the ZIMRA restrictions are retrogressive and self-defeating; those restrictions actually exacerbate the problem they are intended to solve. They create shortages and black markets and destroy the productive base of the economy by killing the incentive to produce.
Mr. President, get out of the business of over-regulations, don't get involved in price controls; unleash the power of the Zimbabwean individual and sit back and relax. You duty Mr. President is to create enabling environment for competition. Don't tie other people's hands behind their backs and expect true competition.
Mr. President, the immediate effect of price control is the creation of a shortage - a first-generation problem. The shortage, in turn, may create a black market, where the commodity is illegally sold above the control price - a second-generation problem or a secondary unintended consequence. On the black market, hoarding, bribery, profiteering, and shady deals may flourish as the commodity becomes more and more scarce. Measures designed to curb profiteering or hoarding attack the second generation problems; that is, they attack the symptoms rather than the root cause of the problem, which is preventing imports and the price control. Mr. President, do not take your eye off the ball, throw that ZIMRA Memorandum out of the door immediately until the economic situation in Zimbabwe normalizes.
The Zimbabwean individual is resilient and entrepreneurial and will help Zimbabwe get out of these economic distortions. Let people bring as much basic commodities as they can. It does not make sense for someone to fly to South Africa to bring only 5 liters of cooking oil, it is a joke! Where are you Mr. President when we are under attack? Please come to Mandamhabwe, we want to see you and hear from you!
Regulations and Memorandums like the one from ZIMRA give people with political connections advantage. Even government officials themselves take advantage, using their office to import commodities and having their wives, and relatives resell on the black market. Mr. President I am asking you to lead and I want to see you addressing the nation on what is going on.
These restrictions retard economic growth because they do not produce wealth but merely redistribute it. Contrary to popular misconceptions, price controls do not make commodities "affordable." Rather, they make them more expensive because of the hidden costs involved in searching for the scarce goods and the time wasted standing in line. These hidden opportunity costs render the commodity much more expensive and can only be eliminated by removing the import restrictions and price controls.
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